It’s easy to miss.
Driving down S. Johnson Ferry Road in the new city of Brookhaven, you hardly notice the vacant, overgrown piece of property between neighborhoods.
But the property has caused a lot of heartache for nearby residents, who now hope to purchase the land and protect it from future development.
In 2011, neighbors rallied together to fight Concorde Fire Soccer Club’s zoning application to build soccer fields on the property. The group was ultimately successful in convincing the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners to reject the request, arguing that the property is in a flood plain, would cause too much noise for nearby neighbors and would create more traffic along an already-busy road.
Some of the most vocal opponents of the soccer complex, Fay Ann and Scott Sherris, and three other neighbors have gotten together to incorporate a non-profit organization called the Brookhaven Conservancy to preserve the land.
“We put in so much time and effort last summer that we didn’t want that to go to waste,” Fay Ann Sherris said.
During that zoning battle, Sherris said the group learned about the ecological impacts of that property, which runs alongside Nancy Creek.
“We learned about the wetlands on the property and thought, gosh this really needs to be preserved,” she said. “We thought what better than to make a positive out this experience?”
The group has a goal of raising $800,000 to buy the roughly 12 acres of land.
“I think what’s the neatest thing about this piece of property is there’s been so much political divide in the area, but this piece of property really brings the whole neighborhood together,” Fay Ann Sherris said. “This is about a united community investing in the neighborhood.”
On Sept. 23, the organization will host a kickoff party with a silent auction to raise money. The event will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer on Peachtree Dunwoody Road and will include live music, food and drinks.
“It’s just for people who are interested,” Scott Sherris said. “We’re of course trying to raise money but we’re also trying to raise awareness.”
The property is largely untouched, except for a path that is mowed by a company that maintains an oil pipeline there.
Scott Sherris said all the plants and trees help to protect nearby residents from severe flooding.
“All the development is crowding the creeks,” he said. “Every little bit of this buffer that gets eaten up is going to push the creek up a little higher.”
The property also provides a much needed habitat for critters like coyotes, which have been pushed out by development.
“This is really one of the few spaces (in Brookhaven) where you can have something natural,” he said.